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neonatal intensive care, parenting, preterm infants, reliability, validity



  1. Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek
  2. Oswalt, Krista L.
  3. Sidora-Arcoleo, Kimberly


Background: Parental perception of their infants and confidence/beliefs about their parenting are among the most salient factors influencing outcomes of preterm infants.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the psychometric properties of scores on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Parental Beliefs Scale (NICU PBS) in a sample of mothers and fathers of preterm infants receiving intensive care. The NICU PBS is a rating instrument designed to assess parental beliefs about their premature infant and their role during hospitalization.


Methods: The sample consisted of 245 mothers and 143 fathers. As part of the Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment trial, participants completed the NICU PBS 4-8 days after NICU admission and again approximately 4 days before discharge. Validation data were obtained at various times throughout the study. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to evaluate the NICU PBS factor structure.


Results: A three-factor solution was accepted (Parental Role Confidence, Parent-Baby Interaction, and Knowledge of the NICU). Reliability of scores on the total scale and subscales was high; Cronbach's alpha ranged from .75 to .91. Test-retest correlations ranged from .84 to .92. Younger maternal age; birth of another child; return to work within the past 12 months; and lower stress, depression, and anxiety were all significantly associated with higher scores on all subscales and the total score. Lower education, lower household income, receipt of Medicaid, and non-White race were associated with higher scores on the parent role confidence subscale and total. Lower household income and receipt of Medicaid were associated with higher Parent-Baby Interaction scores.


Discussion: The NICU PBS can be used reliably with mothers and fathers of premature infants who are hospitalized in the NICU, and it may be a useful scale in predicting parental stress, depression, and anxiety.